I’ve always been entrepreneurial, or at least, I’ve always found ways to make money. We won’t count the time I tried to charge my mum per nit that she removed from my hair though (she gave up, put on the Jungle Book and bribed me with a tenner to sit still.) As well as regular and random jobs, I’ve successfully found ways to make extra money or earn from quirky side hustle ideas. Thankfully these days my income is pretty stable, albeit with the fun, unpredictability of the ‘will they, won’t they pay my invoice on time’ freelancer game chucked in for good measure.
I’ve always had a strong work ethic and I realised pretty quickly that, unless you’re really lucky, money doesn’t just happen. Instead, I managed to find all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to earn it, from pennies to pounds. Now that I’m financially comfortable I’m really grateful for all the innovative and slightly bizarre things I did. Below is the good, the bad and the downright ugly of my tried and tested ways to make money.
All the jobs and side hustles I’ve ever done: 10 ways to make money
Babysitting locally and au pairing abroad
Babysitting was my favourite way to make extra money as a teen. It’s an easy side hustle that – as long as you’re good with kids and y’know responsible and stuff – largely involves sitting on someone else’s sofa and eating their food. I babysat as a teen, usually by word of mouth through family and friends. When I was in uni I found a semi-regular position via a childcare website. It was great. At £7-10 an hour for a pretty cushy role, it’s definitely one to consider as an adult too if you’re looking for ways to make money. There are now apps and all sorts that you can join and get background checked through too.
I also spent a month in Barcelona au pairing for a family via Work Away. The purpose of Work Away is ‘cultural exchange’ rather than to make extra money. However, a £200 flight aside, I did get free lodging in a lovely big house with a swimming pool, a car to use and all food and drink in exchange.
Selling things on eBay
Flipping things on eBay was one of the first ways I made extra money. I opened an account when I was about 12. I’d scour listings and buy things that were poorly listed then re-photograph and list them better for a profit. Rumour has it there’s this girl called Sophia Amoruso who wrote a book about me or something. Now I just do this as a means to owning nice things for less: brand new but horrifically photographed cashmere sweater for £10? Come to mama.
I still regularly sell things I don’t want anymore. You’d be amazed at home much the crap cluttering up your drawer will go for. Got an old iPod kicking about? Clothes you don’t wear anymore or bags you don’t use? You can even sell your empties on eBay! Yep. People will pay to buy empty products, bouji candle jars and the little jewellery boxes and gift bags from brands like Pandora.
Working in a cafe
A pretty standard and self-explanatory way to make money. I worked in a (slightly more upmarket) greasy spoon from GCSE through to A Level. It wasn’t great. I developed a deep dislike of families who would leave a trail of baked beans and crushed Pom Bears in their wake. My boss was ultra cranky and the smell of frothing milk is particularly vile when you’re 17 and hungover on a Saturday morning. Still, I made some moolah.
Delivering flyers and leaflets
Another teenage side hustle, delivering flyers and leaflets through peoples front doors is an easy way to make extra money. Local businesses would pay us a small chunk and, although tiring and a bit mundane, it was satisfying to be handed an envelope of cash immediately after. Particularly in the summer and with a pal in tow, it could even be quite enjoyable!
Carboot sales are a great way to make extra money and clear out your home! You need to have enough to sell to justify the small entry fee and ensure your stand isn’t sparse. However you can shift just about anything! We took unwanted items from family and friends too; they were just happy to have them out of the way and we made a few extra quid.
Waitressing for a catering company
I used to work for an upmarket catering company waitressing at events and weddings. On the whole it was really fun! The bonus of a zero hour contract was that I was able to pick and choose when I worked around college. I did some big sporting events (like the Ryder Cup), some very swanky weddings and even a week at Leeds Met graduation, where we had open access to the bar after hours. It was easy to make work-friends too so as far as ways to make money go, it was a pretty good one.
Charity chugger for Oxfam
Without a doubt the WORST JOB EVER. Yikes. When I first moved to London aged 18 I was pretty broke. I was waiting for a job I’d secured to start so I signed up to collect money for charity on the mean streets of London. The daily rate was pretty good and it involved a day of training too. Catch: you only got paid for the training day if you lasted two days or more with the general public. At the time I thought that was really weird but after I realised it was just a canny way not to pay: so few people last more than a day. Myself included.
That bitingly cold December day on Tottenham Court Road I learnt that the public are SAVAGE. All I had to do was stand in a green tabard and collect email addresses. I expected to be ignored but I hadn’t accounted for the absolute weirdos (dressed up as very normal people) who would call me a whore or spit at me. One particularly pleasant suit even whipped a fresh fifty out of his wallet, wafted it in front of my face and then whipped it away and sauntered off laughing.
Side note: it has made me very kind towards chuggers. I rarely donate (I don’t carry cash) or sign up to anything but I do say hello, take the time to have a quick chat if I can or at least say ‘no thank you’ without the condescending look.
Sales Assistant in John Lewis
This one is pretty obvious. I did a Christmas stint on Oxford Street in Womenswear. My feet bled and the phrase ‘Black Friday’ still makes me shudder but on the whole I really enjoyed it. And the cheap chips in the staff cafe.
Receptionist (full time and temping)
I left retail because I was bored of working weekends and late shifts. I was also bored of the blisters and burning through the soles of my shoes in two weeks flat so I took a Monday to Friday fifty hour a week job with a reception company. In truth, it was pretty crappy; they dressed us like morons, dictated how much make up we had to wear (lots) and sent us running all round the city to cover different front of house desks. However as a spritely 19 year old I was chuffed to earn a salary that started with a 20 and I met one of my best friends in that job.
Whilst at university I signed up to a reception temping agency to make extra money. This time I genuinely loved it! They treated us way better, I wore my own clothes, I could choose when I worked and often got lots of nice benefits from some of the offices. Lots had gyms, free lunches and at the very least let me browse on a computer all day. I spent a lot of that time working on my blog! If money became tight I’d go back to reception temping without much of a grumble.
Sending complaint emails for free things
*note: obviously this is not something I’m suggesting you do and never condone fake emails. I only ever wrote in if I really did have a complaint. Fake complaints waste everyone’s time/resources!*
I’m not saying I’m proud of it but when I was in the first of my boring reception jobs I developed an alias called Jill who used to write to companies with funny complaints. They were all genuine purchases, I’d just send Costa a limerick about why my coffee was rubbish or I’d express deep upset when Leon forgot to put my waffle fries in my order (that actually did happen and I genuinely was hurt). It was tongue in cheek and I liked to think I’d give an equally bored customer service rep a chuckle. Less a way to make extra money and more a way to save money. They’d normally post Jill a gift note or something. Oops…
Think I’ll file this one under ‘things you shouldn’t admit to on the internet.’
sadly I’ve never been paid to stand in a hotel room and drink tea in my knickers
Scanning the barcodes on groceries for an app
Told you I did weird things to make money. I’m not sure how it came about but one involved scanning the barcode of groceries via an app on my phone. I believe they were collecting nutrition data or something. Anyway, it made me a few quid and miraculously I didn’t get barred from Tesco…
Selling hand-drawn greetings cards
This one I got into as a fresher at uni. I was really into hand lettering and illustration and I posted photos of them on Facebook. I took commissions and sold cards and wall signs. It didn’t last long, mainly because I realised it’s only sustainable if you can scan, print and mass-produce or charge a lot for a single card. Still, it was fun to make extra money and forge a side hustle out of a hobby.
Wedding and family photography
After borrowing a camera for a trip to New York when I was 18, I fell in love with photography. I saved up and bought my own camera and then I made a Facebook page to share all of my favourite snaps. Not long after, someone got in touch and asked me to cover their budget wedding. I was very honest about my (lack of) experience but they were still keen. I did another two until I remembered I’d never actually had an interest in wedding photography, then did the odd family session, cake smash and portraits through uni.
It’s funny how things turn out; that side hustle might be why I do what I do today!
Ballet teaching assistant
When I was in my second year at uni I saw a flyer on a local supermarket notice board advertising for a ballet assistant. I danced and took theatre classes for most of my life, it was really local to me and well paid! In reality I didn’t enjoy it much for various reasons but the cash was really handy extra money whilst I was studying.
Market research groups
I’ve done a few market research groups as a means to make extra money. You can usually find one local to you via Google, then they’ll just get in touch if they have an appropriate group. I once got paid £6o cash to eat biscuits for an hour and partake in a group discussion about them. Winning!
Occasional Airbnb host
If you’ve got a space (whole place or room) that you can let out when you’re not using it then it’s a great way to make money. Have a look if there are any major events on in or near your area that you can hike the nightly rate for. As well as being a great side hustle, being an Airbnb host can essentially pay you to take a holiday too. Click here to become a host using my referral link (you’ll get a bonus £31).
Blogging and Influencer Marketing
Finally! Here I am today making it rain (or drizzle) as a full time blogger and ‘influencer’. The journey was an accumulation of that blog I started whilst working on mundane reception desks and that camera I saved up for aged 19.
I firmly believe that you’ll never regret grafting. There are so many great side hustles and ways to make extra money out there. Plus, the awful ones make for great stories!